Antonio De Pau
Judy Monaco
53, Palatine
Former cook of the week.
Favorite cooking show: "Chopped"

Citrus Salmon with Truffle-Perfumed Rice and Stir-fried Veggies with Roasted Pumpkin Seeds


  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup of basmati rice
  • 2 teaspoons truffle salt (or 1 1/2 teas. regular salt) 1 tablespoon olive oil


  • 4 salmon fillets (roughly 1/2 pound each piece)
  • Trade East Citrus Grill Seasoning
  • 1 orange, zest and juice
  • 1 lemon, zest and half the juice
  • 3 small white onions (fresh young onions), sliced very thin
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt to taste


  • 20 asparagus spears (thin, fresh, wild ones work best) use the top 2 inches
  • 2 zucchini (preferably 1 green, 1 yellow), (thinly sliced)
  • 1 can (16 ounces) sweet corn, drained
  • Roasted pumpkins seeds (see note)
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil (preferably sesame oil)

For the rice: Put the water in a saucepan to boil.

In a skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat and toast the rice; stir several times, then add the boiling water. Add the truffle salt. Cover the pan turn down to low heat and cook until the rice is tender, 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit with the cover on for 10-15 minutes; set aside.

For the salmon: Rub the salmon with the seasoning. Put a spoon of olive oil in a non-stick skillet, when the oil is hot, place the salmon in the pan, let cook for 3 or 4 minutes on each side on low heat. Add the onions, and let cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the honey, zest and juice of the lemon and orange and let cook together for 2-3 minutes or until the juice is reduced. Remove from heat, and rest 3-5 minutes before plating.

For the veggies: Heat oil in skillet, stir-fry asparagus sprinkle with some of the citrus seasoning while cooking. Drain and remove from the pan, put in a bowl and set aside. Repeat process with the zucchini, let cook for 2 to 3 minutes, drain add to the bowl, set aside. Repeat again with the corn. When all the veggies are cooked, combine all in the bowl, stir, and sprinkle with roasted pumpkin seeds.

To plate: Divide rice between four plates. Put fish on top with some of the onion and sauce. Serve veggies on the side.

Serves four.

Contestant's Recipe from the First Round

Fish & Fruity Cuban Sofrito Gnocchi with Tuna Meatballs and Mango Sauce

Tuna Meatballs

  • 1 tube (8-count) refrigerator biscuits
  • 3 cans (5 ounces each) tuna, well-drained
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
  • Grated peel of 1 lemon or 2 limes
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil for frying

Mango Sauce

  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 mango (about 240 grams) peeled and cut in cubes)
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
  • 1/2 medium onion (chopped)
  • 1/2 fresh chopped jalepeno (use 1/4 for less kick, more for more kick)
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 a cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • Salt to taste

Sofrito gnocchi

  • 1 pound fresh gnocchi
  • 12 ounces Old Havana Foods Sofrito
  • 1/2 pound cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 red or yellow or orange pepper (chopped in small square pieces)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Olive oil

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare the biscuits according to directions. When cool, grind into breadcrumbs; set aside.

Put the drained tuna in a large bowl; mix with enough bread crumbs that the mixture sticks together. Add the eggs, parsley, grated citrus peel and lemon pepper. Mix until a workable consistency that can be easily formed into balls. (If the mixture is too soft, add more bread crumbs, if too thick add a couple tablespoons of white wine or another egg). Roll mixture into golfball-sized balls, flatten with palm so they are not round (this helps the cooking process).

Put 1/4 inch of oil into a frying pan and cook tuna balls on each side until golden brown.

For the sauce: Combine all sauce ingredients in a saucepan, cook until boiling, lower the heat and cook on a low flame until sauce is thick but still liquid.

For the gnocchi: Prepare the gnocchi according to package directions. While the gnocchi cook, in a separate fry pan, stir fry garlic until brown, add cherry tomatoes (cut in half), cook for 5 minutes, add the peppers, mix and remove from heat.

When cooked, drain the gnocchi, return it to the pan it was cooked in, pour the sofrito over the gnocchi and stir to coat, then put the gnocchi into the pan with the tomatoes and peppers, mix and saute for 2 to 3 minutes.

Serve with a side salad of Radicchio & Mango tossed with a vinaigrette dressing.

Serves four.

Cook’s note: The tuna meat balls and sauce can be prepared the day before and warmed prior to serving.

67, Glendale Heights
Favorite celebrity chef: Giada deLaurentiis

Cuban Tuna with Yellow Rice, Mustard-Butter Biscuits and Mango-Avocado Salad

  • 1 jar (24 ounces) Old Havana Foods Sofrito
  • 4 teaspoons herbes de Provence
  • 1 package (8 ounces) yellow rice
  • 2 cans (5 ounces each) light tuna with olive oil, drained
  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil


  • 1 tube (8-count) refrigerated biscuits
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • Grated Romano cheese


  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 mango, peeled, pitted and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 2 limes)
  • 1 tablespoon dry white wine or dry vermouth
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine sofrito and herbes de Provence in a medium sauce pot. Warm on low heat. Make yellow rice according to package directions.

In a medium bowl combine tuna with capers, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, 2 teaspoons dried parsley and panko and mix until well combined. Form mixture into small balls, about 3/4-inch diameter.

Heat olive oil in medium skillet and cook balls until lightly browned. Add to sauce. Stir gently.

Line a cooking sheet with parchment paper.

Add Dijon mustard to melted butter and stir. Cut biscuits in half, brush butter/mustard mixture over biscuits and sprinkle grated cheese over them. Bake 15 minutes.

Serve tuna and sauce over yellow rice with two biscuits on the plate.

For the salad: Combine shallot, mango and avocado in a medium bowl. In a small bowl whisk together sugar, parsley, lime juice, wine and salt; pour over mango mixture and serve alongside tuna and biscuits.

Serves four.